Dapto always finished “dead last” with the government, Shellharbour MP Anna Watson said in a fiery parliamentary debate on the West Dapto jail proposal.
In response, Corrections Minister David Elliott pointed out the “hypocrisy” of Ms Watson, claiming she was once in favour of the jail.
While the jail proposal has been scrapped, the debate – triggered by a petition of more than 14,000 signatures – went ahead in parliament on Thursday afternoon.
Ms Watson praised the efforts of the Residents Against Dapto Jail group, saying it showed residents were willing to “stand up and fight”.
“This prison should never have been proposed,” Ms Watson said.
“The government has put these families and first home buyers through hell.”
She complained the government was not providing enough schools for West Dapto and also not to constructing the interchange that would give residents access to the Albion Park Rail Bypass.
“Dapto has been blatantly ignored and schools, transport and roads have been overlooked by this government for far too long,” Ms Watson said.
READ MORE: Why the West Dapto jail plan was scrapped
“Those opposite have shown time and again that Dapto is dead last in all of their priorities.
“While one fight is over for my community, others continue. We will not stop until Dapto finally gets everything it deserves.”
Mr Elliott, hit back saying Ms Watson was “originally in favour” of the proposed jail, “and any suggestion to the opposite effect is incorrect”.
“I will commence by highlighting the hypocrisy of the member for Shellharbour, who made it very clear to us that she did not rule out support for a prison at Kembla Grange,” Mr Elliott said.
READ MORE: Dreams restored as Dapto jail plan quashed
“She met with the spokesman on prisons, the member for Fairfield [Labor’s Guy Zangari], near the proposed jail and said, ‘We are not completely opposed to a jail’.”
He also questioned her desire to locate the prison in Kiama MP Gareth Ward’s electorate, which already housed the 600-bed South Coast Correctional Centre.
“If the member for Shellharbour is so opposed to a jail why would she force two on the member for Kiama and not have one in her electorate?”, the minister asked.
Mr Ward, who had been subject to allegations made by Ms Watson under parliamentary privilege that he “verbally abused” a jail campaigner, said the decision to scrap the jail was in “large part due to their advocacy”.
“There is no doubt that in no small part the decision that was taken by the government was due to their hard work and advocacy in collecting petitions, mailboxing, talking to the community and, dare I say, their social media – perhaps I had better not comment on that,” Mr Ward said.